NASA gave a fresh new look to an old picture of Europa, one of the four Galilean moons gravitating around planet Jupiter. The historic photo of Jupiter’s moon Europa was brought to life by using modern technology and enhanced colors.
The photo was taken about twenty years ago by Galileo Orbiter spacecraft, and remastered using ultra modern image processing technology. Scientists say it is the best view we can grasp on the icy satellite.
In 1995 and 1998, during an experiment called Solid-State Imaging (SSI), Galileo Orbiter spacecraft managed to take several black and white pictures of the Galilean moon on a scale of 2 miles per pixel.
In 2001, NASA released a color version of one of the pictures in a lower resolution and pale colors.
In the meantime, space exploration fans created their own versions of Europa’s improved image based on the official data. But to this day never did NASA release an up-to-date image of the satellite. The authors say that the image’s new colors best approximate the moon’s own natural colors, not available to the naked eye of a human observer due to the long distance between Jupiter and Earth.
The remastered photo shows a clearer, new image of Europa’s surface. We can now better see the cracks and ridges on the moon’s surface, along with its beautiful ice patterns.
NASA experts say color variations on Europa’s surface represent different types of geologic features. The blue and white areas, for instance, represent relatively pure ice, while the red and brown traces could represent non-icy elements. The moon’s polar regions, situated to the left and right in the image, are bluer than other regions. Scientists believe the colors differ because ice has different grain size in those regions.
Scientists speculate that the brownish fractures that crisscross the surface might represent important clues about the way the moon formed and the chemistry of a mysterious global ocean that researchers believe it hides under Europa’s icy shell. This mysterious ocean, believed to be 10 times deeper than our deepest ocean, gave hope to NASA researchers that Europa can contain alien life ready to explore. That’s why astronomers believe it to be a “game changer.”
The 1995 and 1998 images were taken using infrared green and violet filters. These filters were combined to produce the new image. Then, the images were adjusted by eliminating unnecessary light coming from outside the image. In the end the color correction was calibrated using wavelength. There were also some gaps in the previous image that were filled with shades of color matching the neighboring surface areas’ hues.